In 2012, Marge Loveday and Katie Herron were two Huntsville musicians just looking for a day job that could support their passion – playing music. The two entrepreneurs put their heads together to create a business that would give them the freedom to do that and not worry about bills. From their motivation, GrubSouth was born – the very first restaurant & food delivery service in Huntsville.
As they grew, GrubSouth’s goals shifted to giving that same freedom to their drivers and dispatchers. Now, the GrubSouth family has become so much more to Loveday and Herron than just an avenue of monetary security. And almost 10 years later, busy families in the Rocket City can still count on GrubSouth to bring their family’s favorites to their door, or to try something new from the comfort of their own homes.
We LOVE to support local mompreneurs here at Rocket City Mom, and a GrubSouth gift card is our favorite go-to gift for families with a new baby! We’re also excited about a special RCM Reader discount code you can use for your next order!
Special Delivery: The GrubSouth Story
We got to hear from Marge and Katie about the history behind their small business and what’s next for GrubSouth.
Who is the ideal GrubSouth customer?
Anyone who is hungry! GrubSouth is for anyone who has ever been exhausted or overworked or just doesn’t feel like cooking. We want to make sure everyone in our delivery area has the opportunity of trying new restaurants from the comfort of their own homes. We are proud of being able to help take care of people who are shut in due to health reasons or during times of transition like birth or death. Like we said before, GrubSouth is for anyone who is hungry!
When we first started, most of our first restaurant partners were restaurant owners and managers that used to book us for music gigs. It was a phenomenal feeling to have that handful of people believe in our new vision enough to take the leap and sign on with GrubSouth as partners for delivery back when it wasn’t commonplace like it is now. Now we are a proud, strong, woman-owned business that makes certain that our customers, employees, independent contractors, and restaurant partners feel seen and heard and represented in this fantastic community. We are an extremely inclusive work environment and we strive to make sure that everyone is comfortable enough to find a seat at our table.
Where do you deliver?
We currently service Huntsville, Madison, Harvest, Hazel Green, Meridianville, Hampton Cove, Owens Crossroads, Decatur, Hartselle, Cullman, Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Sheffield.
What is your favorite thing about owning GrubSouth?
Definitely being able to provide a strong support system for local restaurants in our city. We love the partnership that this business builds, especially in hard times when we really need to lean on each other, like the pandemic shutdowns last year. We were able to absorb so many workers from the service industry that lost their jobs when Covid hit. Driving for us, they could earn income as independent contractors and in turn support restaurants that would have been completely closed without delivery. When everything opened back up and we lost all of those new drivers, we struggled for a bit, but the transition was well worth it knowing that we had supported so many during quarantine.
What is the most challenging thing for you about owning a business?
Working all of the time and juggling all the moving parts that are mostly out of our control. It’s hard to find a healthy work/life balance as owners, especially when you started the business and it’s your baby. Thank God we have each other as partners to pick up the slack for one another when we need to spend more time with our family.
What sets your business apart from others like it? What do you offer that no other food delivery service does?
Our customers will always get a real, LOCAL person on the phone or chat for customer service, which is something that doesn’t happen with our big city competitors. We also have a different level of dedication to our customers and restaurant partners. Because we are 100% local and started this company in a living room in 5 Points, we got to personally build our customer base and partner relationships and take care of them first hand. We were the driver, the dispatcher, and the restaurant representatives all wrapped into one in the beginning. Serving our customers since 2012 and being able to watch our business grow to what it is today has made our customers mean more to us than just another transaction.
What is your entrepreneurial advice to other small business owners?
Katie: Never stop researching.
Marge: Yes! Research, research, research before launching any business in your market and don’t get discouraged when people tell you it isn’t going to last. We were the local pioneers of this type of restaurant delivery business in Huntsville. Being the first is sometimes the key to your success!
If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently?
We don’t regret the way we started. Everything that worked or didn’t helped us to learn and grow. If we had it to do over, maybe we’d trust the growth more and set bigger goals for ourselves. In the beginning we thought 40 restaurants was our ceiling. Flash forward to 2021 and we have 550+ restaurants.
Our expansion across North Alabama is a huge win for us. We never expected to expand outside of Huntsville at all, much less to cover most of North Alabama. We owe it all to our loyal customers and our restaurant partners’ continued support. Without all of you, we’d never have been able to grow the way that we have. In the beginning we had a goal of making 40 orders a day. It’s crazy to look back at GrubSouth just starting out compared to where it is now. We couldn’t be more appreciative to the Rocket City for sticking with us this long. We wouldn’t be here without our amazing and supportive local community!
We also took a big risk in not taking big buyouts. We love our community and don’t want to sell our business to someone that wouldn’t care as much about our customers and restaurant partners as we do. It’s hard to imagine a world where GrubSouth isn’t our baby and for us to sell, we would have to know that whoever continued the business had the same convictions about supporting our community that we do.
What kind of local community initiatives does GrubSouth support?
We are a partnered environment to Open Door and donate to Huntsville Museum of Art Gala, Cystic Fibrosis, Breast Cancer Awareness, Autism Awareness, and Microwave Dave Day, as well as sponsor high school athletic clubs and several other local charities that keep us rooted in North Alabama.
We typically choose foundations that are near to our hearts and/or important to our community. We are musicians so supporting Microwave Dave Day and music education is important to us. Open Door has been a fantastic partnership and continues to astound us daily. There are so many reasons to support local nonprofits, but really, do you NEED a reason to support local? We do it because we care about our North Alabama community, end of story.
DID YOU KNOW?
GrubSouth has an in-house employee that updates Google maps weekly, so if you don’t currently get delivery in your area, please reach out to us! We are constantly growing and expanding and if you want GrubSouth, we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
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Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.